A teacher's introduction to the flipped classroom

Flipped Classroom Overview

Remember when young students were excited about science? Maybe it was a baking soda rocket or the earliest form of chromatography where students used felt tip pens, paper, and water to dye paper. By flipping the classroom, instructors can recreate this excitement! 

How exactly does a teacher flip a classroom?

In a flipped classroom, instructors assign video lectures, reading material, and simulations as homework. Students can learn the concept at home before entering the lab during class. For example, students can do the Thin Layer Chromatography Simulation. They can learn the TLC technique at home and bring their knowledge into the lab the next day when they do the wet lab with their instructor and classmates.

Not only can flipped learning be fun, but it has also proven effective. Studies have shown that flipped classrooms lead to better outcomes than traditional ones. A 2022 meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Education suggests this. 

An interesting point of this study is that flipped classroom learning does not have to be connected to an active learning strategy in order to succeed. It can work with traditional teaching methods, too! 

Flipped classrooms helped students by increasing their exposure to the content. The study found they used a method called fail, flip, fix, and feed.

  • Fail - Productive failure works. Give opportunities for the students to make mistakes and for the professor to identify them.

  • Flip - Give students the opportunity to learn at home, usually with something as simple as a video.

  • Fix - Explore misconceptions; even traditional lectures can produce robust learning.

  • Feed - Provide feedback to the students and instructions on what’s next (Kapur, et al. 2022).

History of the Flipped Classroom

The flipped classroom evolved from an interest in hybrid learning. Jonathan Bergmann and Andrew Sams were two high school teachers known for pioneering it around 2007. They recorded their PowerPoint lectures and put them online for students who missed class but found that students who attended class also used their recordings to review and reinforce learning (Center for Teaching Excellence, 2015).

Salman Khan then popularized the flipped classroom with his 2011 TED talk about using video to transform education. In the years since his education startup, Khan Academy has taught hundreds of thousands of students with video lectures with the support of philanthropists like

Bill Gates. Khan and Gates argue that flipping the classroom frees teachers to become even better instructors and work on projects they would not have been able to dedicate time to otherwise. 

Benefits of Gamified Flipped Labs

They can help science and non-science majors alike. 

A study that tested nonscience majors found that the flipped classroom results “clearly showed a rise in the students’ motivational levels, an acknowledgment of good teaching practices, and an evident enhancement of felt positive emotions toward science teaching and scientific issues” (Zamora-Polo et al., 2019). Flipping the lab engages students in a way that brings back the excitement they had as kids.

Students can control their learning pace.

When assignments are given for students to do asynchronously, they have more autonomy over how long they take on each video, reading, or simulation. Students who progress quickly aren’t held back, and those who need more time can do so. 

You can use traditional methods of teaching. 

As long as you’re engaging students in problem-solving before the classroom, you can use traditional lecture methods in the classroom and be just as effective! According to the study in Fronter Education, “It is passive learning as opposed to active learning that seems to have the greatest impact on the overall effects.”

Reflection Questions

  • How will you organize your class materials and content to best use a flipped classroom?

  • What sort of activities will you do during class time to engage students?


Khan, Sal. [TED2011] . (2011). Let's use video to reinvent education [Video] Ted.com https://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education?language=en

Kapur, Manu, et al. (2022). Fail, flip, fix, and feed – Rethinking flipped learning: A review of meta-analyses and a subsequent meta-analysis. Frontiers in Education.https://www.research-collection.ethz.ch/handle/20.500.11850/572828 

Zamora-Polo, F., Corrales-Serrano, M., Sánchez-Martín, J., & Espejo-Antúnez, L. (2019). Nonscientific University Students Training in General Science Using an Active-Learning Merged Pedagogy: Gamification in a Flipped Classroom. Education Sciences, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci9040297

Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo. (2015). The Flipped Classroom. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/sites/ca.centre-for-teaching-excellence/files/uploads/files/the_flipped_classroom_white_paper.pdf

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